Wolves vs Manchester United | Sunday 29th August 2021, 16:30 | Sky Sports
The final game of the weekend sees Wolves welcome Man Utd to Molineux as they search for their first Premier League win, and goal, of the season.
Back-to-back 1-0 defeats for Wolves have been tough to take given the chances they’ve created, but ultimately, their failure to take them has been costly.
Man Utd head to the Midlands unbeaten after Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Southampton, which could have gone either way. Anthony Martial should really have buried his chance in the first half, while they had David de Gea to thank for denying Adam Armstrong late on, which would have sealed three points for the Saints.
Summer signings Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho both started that on the bench with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer giving them more time to settle into life at the Old Trafford club. But both will be vying for a starting berth in this one.
And after Monday Night Football where Gary Neville talked about the Red Devils needing a Harry Kane to win them trophies, the board said ‘raise’ and have agreed a deal for Cristiano Ronaldo.
After a whirlwind 24 hours, where the Portuguese star looked set to join the blue half of the city, in swooped United to seal his return. This United side could be all-out attack in a few weeks with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Jadon Sancho and Edinson Cavani. Plus, they’ve got Marcus Rashford to return from injury! Doesn’t that scream goals?
Wolves and their shooting boots
One thing that has been sung to the high hills already is the number of shots Wolves have attempted this season.
In the Premier League, only Liverpool (47) have had more attempts than the Old Gold (42). And despite that, just nine of those 42 shots have tested the opposition goalkeeper. That’s something they need to work on.
Under Bruno Lage, it seems a more expansive and attacking approach compared to the one they witnessed under Nuno Espirito Santo, which is quite pragmatic in a bid to stifle opponents before hitting them on the break.
So far, Wolves has recorded 17 and 25 shots in their two respective games, with those coming against the sides that finished fifth and seventh last season.
Even in the League Cup in midweek, they turned on the style against a very poor Nottingham Forest side. Old Gold racked up another 28 shots, 13 of which were on target, in their 4-0 triumph.
And in both of their league games, they’ve won the non-penalty expected goals battle: Leicester 0.8xG v 1.1xG Wolves & Wolves 1.4xG v 0.8xG Spurs. So, despite slipping to two narrow defeats, there’s encouraging signs under the new regime.
The shots have been coming from all angles in truth. In the defeat against Spurs last weekend, Nelson Semedo recorded two efforts, while fellow defenders Marcal, Romain Saiss and Rayan Ait Nouri also had shots.
With the home fans roaring them on. And with the likes of Raul Jimenez searching for his first Premier League goal since returning from injury and a potential goodbye appearance from Adama Traore, the side in Old Gold could put this Red Devils defence under stern pressure.
One player that caught the eye for chancing his arm last season was Nelson Semedo. He had two shots v Spurs, both from outside the 18-yard box.
Last season saw the ex-Barca player have 23 shots, 14 of which were from outside the area, so that’s 61% of his efforts coming from distance.
He was on target when the sides met here on the final day of last season, although that did come from inside the area. But looking at the markets, Ladbrokes are offering 8/5 on Semedo having a shot from outside the box, which could be a nice way in if he can utilise the space behind Luke Shaw.
The transfer rumour mill is in full swing as the clock ticks down until it slams shut. There is speculation about the future of Traore, with former boss Nuno interested in being reunited with the speedster.
He was fouled four times by his suitors last weekend, one of which saw Japhet Tanganga enter the referee’s notebook.
Last season saw him fouled 77 times, and it’ll be Aaron Wan-Bissaka tasked with stopping him. Although he was fifth overall in the Premier League for tackles (88) last season, the bookies have cottoned onto that. Sky Bet go 4+ at 11/8 as their first odds-against line.
But with Mike Dean the man in the middle, we could see a few cards for fouls on Traore. I’m thinking back to last season’s Midlands derby, where all the Villa backline were cautioned bar Tyrone Mings.
There was some surprise that the Wirral whistler kept his powder dry in the Liverpool v Burnley game last weekend, and that could be down to this ‘soft touch’ approach, which allows matches to flow.
However, one mistimed challenge around with Traore tearing down the wing, then Wan-Bissaka could be in a spot of bother. So, the 11/2 for him to be carded looks like a standout price.
He was only on the bench for the visit to Molineux last season but was carded here during the 2019/20 season, in a game that saw Traore come off the bench. Plus, there’s a chance if the Red Devils are winning, that the right-back tries to run down the clock at throw-ins, which will work in our favour too.